Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 34: Arsenal Stay Top By Beating Chelsea; Manchester City Wins At Fulham; Manchester United Douses Villa Hopes; Liverpool Spoils Spurs Comeback; Flock of Seagulls Score Versus Wolves; Sam Allardyce Returns To Premier League After Cherries Roll Past Leaky Leeds; Leicester and Everton Decide Nothing In Monday Draw

Arsenal postponed the seeming inevitable by restoring its fragile two-point lead in the table with a 3-1 win over flailing Chelsea. The Gunners had their way with a packed-in Chelsea defense that inexplicably parted like the Red Sea in the first half. An unmarked Martin Odegaard scored twice for Arsenal before Gabriel Jesus capped a miserable first half for Chelsea with a far too easy put back as Chelsea defenders collided in front of their net. Jesus’s goal was his 10th of the season as he joined three other Arsenal players who have double digit goal totals for the Gunners this season. The match risked getting out of hand before Chelsea was able to stop the bleeding with an improved second half effort. Noni Madueke even scored a consolation goal for the Blues, only the second goal scored by Chelsea during Manager Frank Lampard’s six match winless run.

Manchester City, 2-1 winners at Fulham on Sunday, play again on Wednesday with a chance to move ahead of Arsenal. A third minute penalty kick against the Cottagers by Erling Haaland was his 50th goal of the season across all competitions and his 34th Premier League goal, tying the Norwegian striker with Alan Shearer and Andy Cole for the most goals in a Premier League season. Julian Alvarez was fouled to set up Haaland’s kick and the Argentine forward would later score City’s second goal in the 36th minute after Fulham had leveled. Manchester City extended its unbeaten run across all competitions to 18 matches and notched an eighth consecutive league win as it chases Arsenal for the title.

Sam Allardyce returns to the Premier League for yet another fireman assignment after Leeds sacked Manager Javi Gracia to bring in the survival specialist. Director of Football Victor Orta was also dismissed after Leeds’s 4-1 loss to Bournemouth. Allardyce’s perceived strength is saving poor squads from relegation. Big Sam has performed magic in saving clubs such as Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace from the drop. He was unsuccessful, however, in managing the same for relegated West Brom two years ago and has been out of work since. Allardyce has a chance to recapture the magic if he can keep Leeds up with just four matches remaining.

The club had been spiraling out of control under Gracia, setting a new Premier League record for goals conceded in a single month as four more shots, two by the Cherries’ Jefferson Lerma, found the net against the Whites in the loss to a Bournemouth side which has won five of its last six matches to leave the relegation discussion. The 23 April goals allowed by Leeds broke the previous Premier League mark of 20 set by Leeds in February of 2022. Remarkably, the Whites are currently safe on goal differential despite conceding a league high 67 goals in their 34 matches. Leeds is currently on 30 points along with Leicester and Nottingham Forest among three squads spanning slots 16 through 18 in the table.

Nottingham Forest is currently odd man out as they sit in the relegation zone on goal differential after a 2-1 defeat at Brentford Saturday. Leicester’s 2-2 Monday draw with Everton moved the Foxes into the three-way tie on points where they have a far superior goal differential to either Leeds or Nottingham Forest. Everton also remains in the survival fight, just one point shy of the 30-point club, after Leicester’s James Maddison missed what should have been a winning penalty kick.

Southampton is losing touch with the pack after a 3-1 loss to Newcastle. The south coast club’s 24 points to date are six points south of the relegation line after losing for the seventh time in a current nine match winless run. Newcastle’s Callum Wilson scored twice as a second half substitute for the Magpies who maintained a nine-point advantage over fifth place Liverpool in the quest to clinch a Champions League berth for next season.

Liverpool moved past Tottenham Hotspur in the table with a dramatic 4-3 win over Spurs at Anfield. The Reds sprinted to a 3-0 lead by the 15-minute mark as some of the Spurs away supporters began to file out of the stadium. The north London side showed heart, however, in fighting all the way back to tie the match in the third minute of final stoppage time on Richarlison’s first goal of the Premier League season. Spurs being Spurs, however, the winner was handed to Liverpool when Spurs’ Lucas Moura rolled the ball to Liverpool’s Diogo Jota in the Tottenham Hotspur end. Jota accepted the gift and found the net for the winner just one minute after Richarlison’s equalizer. A third loss in a four-match winless run in the league has transformed Spurs’ season from fighting for a Champions League berth to potentially missing out on European play next season entirely. The star-crossed club has allowed 15 goals in those past four matches. Liverpool narrowly averted what would have been an emotionally destructive collapse and accepted Spurs generosity for the Reds’ fourth consecutive win. The referee and VA official were also kind to Liverpool as winning goal scorer Jota had earlier received no more than a yellow card for a high kick that bloodied the head of Spurs midfielder Oliver Skipp.

Manchester United ended Aston Villa’s 10 match unbeaten run as Villa failed to score a goal for the first time under Manager Unai Emery in a 1-0 Red Devil win at Old Trafford. A 39th minute goal by Bruno Fernandes grabbed the three points and helped solidify Manchester United’s top four position and Champions League qualification. The Red Devils are seven points ahead of Liverpool while having played one fewer match than their historic rivals. Aston Villa, meanwhile, finds itself now nine points behind Manchester United, effectively ending any slim hope of a top four finish. Instead, Aston Villa sits seventh and in a battle for Europa League and Europa Conference League berths.

Brighton is close on Aston Villa’s heels after a 6-0 smashing of Wolves. Deniz Undav, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck all posted braces for the Seagulls as Brighton registered its most lopsided win as a topflight club. Brighton has three matches in hand versus Ason Villa and Tottenham Hotspur and two matches in hand versus fifth place Liverpool in the battle between the four clubs for three European places. The Seagulls currently trail Villa and Spurs by two points and Liverpool by four points in the table.

Another seven-goal extravaganza unfolded at Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace defeated West Ham 4-3. Crystal Palace Manager Roy Hodgson now has four wins and a draw in his six matches in charge of the Eagles as his appointment has proved a masterstroke by club chairman Steve Parish. Eberechi Eze’s 66th minute penalty proved the winner for Crystal Palace as the young midfielder has now scored four times since the return of the 75-year-old Hodgson to south London. Saturday’s victory puts the Eagles at 40 points, a point total Hodgson himself had targeted as the requirement to Premier League survival. West Ham, meanwhile, still has work to do to ensure its continued Premier League participation after a second consecutive defeat leaves the Hammers four points clear of the drop line with five matches remaining.

Midweek Premier League Matches

Three rescheduled matches from match week 28 take place Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Manchester City will try to take another step towards the title when the Citizens host West Ham on Wednesday. A victory at the Etihad would move Manchester City ahead of Arsenal in the title chase despite having played one fewer match. The Hammers are trying to claw free of the relegation fight as Manager David Moyes’ men are just four points clear of the drop entering Wednesday’s match. Liverpool is home for a second consecutive match on Wednesday when Fulham comes to Anfield. Four straight victories, the latest being Sunday’s seven goal home thriller with Spurs, have lifted the Reds into fifth place. Brighton currently sits outside the European places as the Seagulls face a home match versus Manchester United on Thursday. In Brighton’s favor, however, is the fact that the Seagulls have played three fewer matches than Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, the two clubs currently two points above the eighth place Seagulls in the table. 

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